Mental health covers our emotional, psychological and social well-being, affecting the way we think, feel and react. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic shifting the lives of millions of students and thus impacting mental health, more resources have been introduced to schools to combat these arising discussions. As a result, Broward County Public Schools has implemented their new campaign T.A.L.K., which stands for Tell Another. Listening is Key. This is an exclusive BCPS app that provides K-12 students with a confidential online form to request to speak to a mental health professional or report abuse.
“Mental health counselors and professionals have been part of the district for a long time and this is just another way for students to access them during eLearning,” guidance counselor Rachel Kusher said. “I think high school students will definitely use it when they need to talk to someone and are not sure where to start or who to ask.”
This app can be found on every student’s Clever portal page under “My Applications.” Students who select the T.A.L.K. icon will be directed to a Microsoft Form, where they must enter their full name and the school they currently attend. The form then asks whether the individual wants to report child abuse, wants a mental health professional to contact them (before the end of the next school day) or wants a mental health professional to contact them immediately.
“Students do not have to struggle alone. We must support each other through the good and the bad times,” guidance counselor Karen Marine said. “I am glad to see this resource available to our students. I like that it is easily accessible and right there on the student’s Clever portal.”
All inquiries pertaining to child abuse are directed to the Child Abuse and Neglect program of the student’s school, while requests to talk to a mental health professional will be sent to the school’s social workers and/or the Family Counseling Program therapists on a rotating basis.
“I am so appreciative that the district is establishing a platform for students struggling with mental health to ask for help in a safe and sound way,” Mind Body Ambassador Club President Arthy Suresh said. “Oftentimes, students don’t want to openly admit to facing challenges with mental or emotional health, but I think this resource is great in that something as simple as a form would make a student more comfortable about opening up because it isn’t publicizing their current situation in any way.”
Besides the T.A.L.K. app, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are able to request appointments to speak with their grade level mental health professional or school social worker by accessing the Wellness Center Canvas page.
“As a mental health professional, I am pleased to see the increasing availability and accessibility of mental health resources for our students here at MSD,” school social worker Lindsay Bruckner said.
Though the T.A.L.K. app is relatively new, students have already submitted requests. If a student is in trouble and needs to be connected to a mental health professional immediately, they can contact First Call for Help at 954-537-0211, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. The app advises all students to call 911 if they have an emergency.
This story was originally published in the December 2020 Eagle Eye print edition.